Research Assistant, University of Reading
My Dad was an avid road cyclist and competed in many races and completed long distance rides regularly so I have many early memories of bicycle activities. He got me on a bike the first chance that he had – when I was still sucking on my dummy, not much more than 18 months old. This photo was taken in the Algarve in Portugal, my first holiday abroad and my first bike experience!
I remember first learning how to ride a bicycle in the car park of my primary school at about five years old. Trying to dodge all the cars was a real skill to learn – even though they were stationary! My main memories of my childhood revolve around cycling my mountain bike down the Cuckoo Trail in my home town in Sussex, with my Dad, sister and friends. This became a regular activity throughout my teens and my friends and I would go out on our bikes down the Cuckoo Trail and around the Sussex Downs any time the weather permitted it. I still recall my first incident very well. My friends and I were trying to ride our bikes ‘hands-free’ and a couple of us ended up bike-free, face first on the floor! This did not deter me at all, however, and I got straight back on the bike, determined to perfect the hands-free posture.
I gain much pleasure from cycling, feeling in control and getting to and experiencing different places easily. I particularly enjoy cycling along the dyke with my partner in the Netherlands where he lives. I spent my late teens and early 20s not cycling very much whilst at university as my other love, walking, took over but my Dad recently inspired me to rediscover cycling, one of the best ways to keep active and stimulated. He re-engaged with cycling when he became unwell in an attempt to improve his health. Not only did his physical health benefit from this, his mental well-being and determination was boosted from engaging in an activity he had always obtained great joy from, particularly knowing that he was still able to conduct this activity when he thought his illness would prevent him from doing so.